‘Mobile-Aid’ scheme to benefit UAE-RC

ABU DHABI – The UAE Red Crescent (UAE-RC) is to be the latest beneficiary of a unique SMS campaign that provides assistance to UAE charities in their fund-raising efforts, an initiative that has already helped three other charities in Dubai and Sharjah.

According to UAE businessman Tariq Qureishy, Founder-CEO of i2i Group, based in Dubai Media City, who is the brainchild of the ‘Mobile-Aid’ scheme, the UAE-RC now joins Al Noor, Rashid Paediatric Centre and Sharjah Charity International, which are already beneficiaries.

“To take part in the unique campaign all a mobile phone user has to do is to send an SMS message to 4322, the designated number for the UAE-RC. The mobile phone user will then automatically receive an acknowledgement message and Dh10 will be charged to their mobile phone account, or deducted from their pre-paid cards. All the money, minus the Etisalat charges, will then be forwarded by Etisalat directly to the bank accounts of the charities.

“For a long time charities have been seeking a way to attract micro-donations by a simple, fast and effective method, and this is exactly what Mobile-Aid will offer,” said Mr Qureishy, adding that Mobile-Aid is a non-profit making organisation that lends its services and technology completely free of charge to registered charities.

He said, “It is our objective to try and raise Dh10 million for the UAE-RC by November 2004, with some 2.5 million mobile phone users in the UAE, it just needs the majority of those people to donate just Dh10 once or twice a year and Dh10 million becomes a real and feasible possibility.”

Mr Qureishy continued that in addition, Price Waterhouse Coopers has been appointed to verify and audit all accounts received from Etisalat and produce a report for the board on a quarterly basis. He said the accounts would also be made available to the public.

While this is a UAE first for Mobile-Aid, the scheme did undergo an earlier trial run this year in Pakistan when an appeal was launched for Imran Khan’s Hospital in Lahore.

“We launched the appeal on ARY Digital TV in Dubai and within 24 hours over 50,000 people responded! It was a huge success and the hospital has already pledged its full support for our UAE campaign,” said Mr Qureishy.

The launch, coincides with the holy month of Ramadan, a fact that he hoped would help kick start the campaign.

“It is a traditional time of giving and helping those less fortunate, and because the concept is so simple, we have people who donate regularly throughout the month and beyond, although there is no limit to how many times people wish to donate, only Dh10 will be acknowledged at a time,” he added.

He said people would be asked to contribute Dh10 about three times a year unless there were world crisis.

“Your Dh10 could make a world of difference – either providing 30 meals for a child, 30 days of life via nutritional supplement, 10 IQ points for an iron-deficient child or 30 hours of classroom education,” he said.

Mobile-Aid intends to go international because with over 1.2 billion mobile phone users worldwide, the potential for aid was enormous, he said.

On the occasion, Robert van Meerendonk, General Manager of Sheraton Abu Dhabi, presented a cheque for Dh50,000 to Mohammed Al Otaiba, Deputy Director of the Volunteer Department and Mohammed Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Fund Raising Manager of the UAE-RC, and pledged the hotel’s support to the UAE-RC’s charitable projects during 2004.

“This is such a great idea, something common enough in the West, but I think there are plenty of philanthropic souls in the UAE, and I will certainly contribute Dh10 at least three times a year,” said Salwa Mazroei, a UAE national mother of two, who was present there.

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